Primary Documents



Donald Duncan-Vietnam was a lie, 1966

Donald Duncan “The Whole Thing Was a Lie!” was published in Ramparts magazine, the New Left’s most prominent publication, in February 1966. As a former member of the Special Forces in Vietnam, Duncan lent credibility to the antiwar movement’s claim that the United States was not fighting for freedom in Southeast Asia and that it was acting in an immoral manner, analogous to the role played by Russian tanks that put down a rebellion in Hungary in 1956. Duncan’s article contained some of the most riveting firsthand descriptions of the fighting, which contrasted sharply with the largely favorable coverage the war was receiving at the time by the mainstream media. Indeed, although the antiwar movement has often been portrayed as anti-GI, this article suggests that the relationship between active soldiers, Vietnam veterans, and the antiwar movement was quite complex and certainly should not be caricatured as one of antiwar protesters spitting on GIs, as has often been the case.

Donald Duncan, “The Whole Thing Was a Lie!” Ramparts 4, no. 10 (February 1966), pp. 12-24.

When I was drafted into the Army, ten years ago, I was a militant antiCommunist. Like most Americans, I couldn’t conceive of anybody choosing communism over democracy. The depths of my aversion to this ideology was, I suppose, due in part to my being Roman Catholic, in part to the stories in the news media about communism, and in part to the fact that my stepfather was born in Budapest, Hungary. Although he had come to the United States as a young man, most of his family had stayed in Europe. From time to time, I would be given examples of the horrors of life under communism. Shortly after Basic Training, I was sent to Germany. I was there at the time of the Soviet suppression of the Hungarian revolt. Everything I had heard about communism was verified. Like my fellow soldiers I felt frustrated and cheated that the United States would not go to the aid of the Hungarians. Angrily, I followed the action of the brute force being used against people who were armed with sticks, stolen weapons, and a desire for independence.

While serving in Germany, I ran across the Special Forces. I was so impressed by their dedication and élan that I decided to volunteer for duty with this group. By 1959 I had been accepted into the Special Forces and underwent training at Fort Bragg. I was soon to learn much about the outfit and the men in it. A good percentage of them were Lodge Act people—men who had come out from Iron Curtain countries. Their anti-communism bordered on fanaticism. Many of them who, like me, had joined Special Forces to do something positive, were to leave because “things” weren’t happening fast enough. They were to show up later in Africa and Latin America in the employ of others or as independent agents for the CIA.

Initially, training was aimed at having United States teams organize guerrilla movements in foreign countries. Emphasis was placed on the fact that guerrillas can’t take prisoners. We were continuously told “You don’t have to kill them yourself—let your indigenous counterpart do that.” In a course entitled, “Countermeasures to Hostile Interrogation,” we were taught NKVD (Soviet Security) methods of torture to extract information. It became obvious that the title was only camouflage for teaching us “other” means of interrogation when time did not permit more sophisticated methods, for example, the old cold water-hot water treatment, or the delicate operation of lowering a man’s testicles into a jeweler’s vise. When we asked directly if we were being told to use these methods the answer was, “We can’t tell you that. The Mothers of America wouldn’t approve.” This sarcastic hypocrisy was greeted with laughs. Our own military teaches these and even worse things to American soldiers. They then condemn the Viet Cong guerrillas for supposedly doing those very things. I was later to witness firsthand the practice of turning prisoners over to ARVN for “interrogation” and the atrocities which ensued.

Throughout the training there was an exciting aura of mystery. Hints were continually being dropped that “at this very moment” Special Forces men were in various Latin American and Asian countries on secret missions. The antiCommunist theme was woven throughout. Recommended reading would invariably turn out to be books on “brainwashing” and atrocity tales—life under communism. The enemy was THE ENEMY. There was no doubt that THE ENEMY was communism and Communist countries. There never was a suggestion that Special Forces would be used to set up guerrilla warfare against the government in a Fascist-controlled country.

It would be a long time before I would look back and realize that this conditioning about the Communist conspiracy and THE ENEMY was taking place. Like most of the men who volunteered for Special Forces, I wasn’t hard to sell. We were ready for it. Artur Fisers, my classmate and roommate, was living for the day when he would “lead the first ‘stick’ of the first team to go into Latvia.” “How about Vietnam, Art?” “To hell with Vietnam. I wouldn’t blend. There are not many blue-eyed gooks.” This was to be only the first of many contradictions of the theory that Special Forces men cannot be prejudiced about the color or religion of other people. . . .

My first impressions of Vietnam were gained from the window of the jet while flying over Saigon and its outlying areas. As I looked down I thought, “Why, those could be farms anywhere and that could be a city anywhere.” The ride from Tan Son Nhut to the center of town destroyed the initial illusion.

My impressions weren’t unique for a new arrival in Saigon. I was appalled by the heat and humidity which made my worsted uniform feel like a fur coat. Smells. Exhaust fumes from the hundreds of blue and white Renault taxis and military vehicles. Human excrement; the foul, stagnant, black mud and water as we passed over the river on Cong Ly Street; and overriding all the others, the very pungent and rancid smell of what I later found out was nuoc mam, a sauce made much in the same manner as sauerkraut, with fish substituted for cabbage. No Vietnamese meal is complete without it. People—masses of them! The smallest children, with the dirty faces of all children of their age, standing on the sidewalk unshod and with no clothing other than a shirtwaist that never quite reached the navel on the protruding belly. Those a little older wearing overalltype trousers with the crotch seam torn out—a practical alteration that eliminates the need for diapers. Young grade school girls in their blue butterfly sun hats, and boys of the same age with hands out saying, “OK—Salem,” thereby exhausting their English vocabulary. The women in ao dais of all colors, all looking beautiful and graceful. The slim, hipless men, many walking hand-in-hand with other men, and so misunderstood by the newcomer. Old men with straggly Fu Man Chu beards staring impassively, wearing wide-legged, pajama-like trousers.

Bars by the hundreds—with American-style names (Playboy, Hungry i, Flamingo) and faced with grenade-proof screening. Houses made from packing cases, accommodating three or four families, stand alongside spacious villas complete with military guard. American GI’s abound in sport shirts, slacks, and cameras; motorcycles, screaming to make room for a speeding official in a large, shiny sedan, pass over an intersection that has hundreds of horseshoes impressed in the soft asphalt tar. Confusion, noise, smells, people—almost overwhelming.

My initial assignment was in Saigon as an Area Specialist for III and IV Corps Tactical Zone in the Special Forces Tactical Operations Center. And my education began here. The officers and NCO’s were unanimous in their contempt of the Vietnamese.

There was a continual put-down of Saigon officials, the Saigon government, ARVN ( Army Republic of Vietnam), the LLDB (Luc Luong Dac Biet—-Vietnamese Special Forces) and the Vietnamese man-in-the-street. The government was rotten, the officials corrupt, ARVN cowardly, the LLDB all three, and the man-in-the-street an ignorant thief. (LLDB also qualified under “thief.")

I was shocked. I was working with what were probably some of the most dedicated Americans in Vietnam. They were supposedly in Vietnam to help “our Vietnamese friends” in their fight for a democratic way of life. Obviously, the attitude didn’t fit.

. . . [W]henever anybody questioned our being in Vietnam—in light of the facts—the old rationale was always presented: “We have to stop the spread of communism somewhere . . . if we don’t fight the commies here, we’ll have to fight them at home . . . if we pull out, the rest of Asia will go Red . . . these are uneducated people who have been duped; they don’t understand the difference between democracy and communism. . . .”

Being extremely anti-Communist myself, these “arguments” satisfied me for a long time. In fact, I guess it was saying these very same things to myself over and over again that made it possible for me to participate in the things I did in Vietnam. But were we stopping communism? Even during the short period I had been in Vietnam, the Viet Cong had obviously gained in strength; the government controlled less and less of the country every day. The more troops and money we poured in, the more people hated us. Countries all over the world were losing sympathy with our stand in Vietnam. Countries which up to now had preserved a neutral position were becoming vehemently anti-American. A village near Tay Ninh in which I had slept in safety six months earlier was the center of a Viet Cong operation that cost the lives of two American friends. A Special Forces team operating in the area was almost decimated over a period of four months. United States Operations Mission ( USOM), civilian representatives, who had been able to travel by vehicle in relative safety throughout the countryside, were being kidnapped and killed. Like the military, they now had to travel by air.

The real question was, whether communism is spreading in spite of our involvement or because of it.

The attitude that the uneducated peasant lacked the political maturity to decide between communism and democracy and “. . . we are only doing this for your own good,” although it had a familiar colonialistic ring, at first seemed to have merit. Then I remembered that most of the villages would be under Viet Cong control for some of the time and under government control at other times. How many Americans had such a close look at both sides of the cloth? The more often government troops passed through an area, the more surely it would become sympathetic to the Viet Cong. The Viet Cong might sleep in the houses, but the government troops ransacked them. More often than not, the Viet Cong helped plant and harvest the crops; but invariably government troops in an area razed them. Rape is severely punished among the Viet Cong. It is so common among the ARVN that it is seldom reported for fear of even worse atrocities.

I saw the Airborne Brigade come into Nha Trang. Nha Trang is a government town and the Vietnamese Airborne Brigade are government troops. They were originally, in fact, trained by Special Forces, and they actually had the town in a grip of terror for three days. Merchants were collecting money to get them out of town; cafes and bars shut down.

The troops were accosting women on the streets. They would go into a place—a bar or cafe—and order varieties of food. When the checks came they wouldn’t pay them. Instead they would simply wreck the place, dumping over the tables and smashing dishes. While these men were accosting women, the police would just stand by, powerless or unwilling to help. In fact, the situation is so difficult that American troops, if in town at the same time as the Vietnamese Airborne Brigade, are told to stay off the streets at night to avoid coming to harm.

The whole thing was a lie. We weren’t preserving freedom in South Vietnam. There was no freedom to preserve. To voice opposition to the government meant jail or death. Neutralism was forbidden and punished. Newspapers that didn’t say the right thing were closed down. People are not even free to leave and Vietnam is one of those rare countries that doesn’t fill its American visa quota. It’s all there to see once the Red film is removed from the eyes. We aren’t the freedom fighters. We are the Russian tanks blasting the hopes of an Asian Hungary. . . .

When I returned from Vietnam I was asked, “Do you resent young people who have never been in Vietnam, or in any war, protesting it?” On the contrary, I am relieved. I think they should be commended. I had to wait until I was 35 years old, after spending 10 years in the Army and 18 months personally witnessing the stupidity of the war, before I could figure it out. That these young people were able to figure it out so quickly and so accurately is not only a credit to their intelligence but a great personal triumph over a lifetime of conditioning and indoctrination. I only hope that the picture I have tried to create will help other people come to the truth without wasting 10 years. Those people protesting the war in Vietnam are not against our boys in Vietnam. On the contrary. What they are against is our boys being in Vietnam. They are not unpatriotic. Again the opposite is true. They are opposed to people, our own and others, dying for a lie, thereby corrupting the very word democracy.


Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 11/25 at 06:25 PM
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William F Buckley on moral leadership at Columbia University, 1968

Buckley, the founder of the National Review, disapprovingly recounts the story of Linda LeClair, a student at Barnard College, who lived with her boyfriend in a private apartment. Not only did Buckley berate LeClair for her decision to live with a man outside of wedlock, but he lambasted Barnard administrators and other liberals for tolerating such behavior. While LeClair probably viewed Playboy’s philosophy as the antithesis of hers, Buckley linked the two together, seeing them as equal parts in the same revolution against time-honored morality. Buckley coupled this editorial with a piece on the student rebellion at Barnard College’s male affiliate, Columbia University. Whereas Buckley censured Barnard administrators for tolerating LeClair’s violation of school rules, he praised Columbia University president Grayson Kirk for cracking down on student rebels who occupied and defiled campus buildings. Indeed, in contrast to many other commentators who demanded Kirk’s resignation for allowing New York City police to brutally evict the student demonstrators, Buckley cast the university president as a champion of virtue.

William F. Buckley Jr., “Linda’s Crusade”, National Review 20, no. 2 ( May 21, 1968)

New York, April 28—It is now a national story that Miss Linda LeClair, twenty, of Barnard College, has been living off campus in New York with Mr. Peter Behr, 22, of Columbia, and that a general story on such practices by the New York Times flushed out the cohabitation and put the authorities of Barnard College on the spot. Complications came swift and fast. Dozens upon dozens of Miss LeClair’s classmates stepped forward to admit that their living arrangements were similarly loose-minded, and that therefore it would be unfair to penalize Miss LeClair simply because she happened to be the one who was caught, a defensive doctrine which is not exactly airtight.

The authorities, visibly disconcerted, demonstrated from the outset a total lack of conviction about the significance of Miss LeClair’s sexual habits, and decided instead to focus on her having lied in the college form she had filled out giving the required details on where she was domiciled. All of a sudden, all of Barnard was rising in indignation over the false entry in the form, which is rather like being indignant at Iago because he was rude to Desdemona. And then, to make opera bouffe of the whole thing, after meeting solemnly to consider the disposition of the LeClair case, the authorities voted to deprive her of access to the school cafeteria, which was joke enough for a public unfamiliar with the school cafeteria, but for those who are forced to patronize it, it was apparently something in the nature of black humor.

Miss LeClair’s parents were finally consulted, and it transpires that they, being of the older generation of course, disapprove their daughter’s habits, and have gone so far as to cease to send her money. Mr. Behr, who is a draft evader, is apparently unable to take up the slack; so that perhaps the indomitable Miss LeClair will list herself as an unemployed concubine and apply for relief from the City, which has never been known to deny relief to anyone who applies for it: and that should settle the economic exigencies of the matter.

As for the future, we learn from Miss LeClair that it is her intention to continue to live with Mr. Behr after he is let out of prison, to which he expects to repair in consequence of his violation of the statute law if not the moral law. And they will then found a colony where couples can live and bear and raise children, without getting married. Miss LeClair, in other words, desires to abrogate the institution of marriage, which is apparently okay by Barnard, now that she has ceased to lie about it.

The commentary on the case in the urban press is of course more interesting than the delinquency of this pathetic little girl, so gluttonous for sex and publicity. My favorite is Mr. Max Lerner’s, ever on his avant garde. Surveying the story, he concludes, “In moral terms, while it says that the sexual code is no longer there, it fails to deal with the question of truthfulness. . .” So much for a code that developed over three thousand years of Judaeo-Christian experience-shot down, in a subordinate phrase, by Mr. Max Lerner.

There isn’t anyone around who seems prepared to say to Miss LeClair: Look, it is wrong to do what you have done. Wrong because sexual promiscuity is an assault on an institution that is central to the survival of the hardiest Western ideal: the family. In an age in which the Playboy philosophy is taken seriously, as a windy testimonial to the sovereign right of all human appetites, it isn’t surprising that the LeClairs of this world should multiply like rabbits, whose morals they imitate. But the fact that everybody does it—even Liberace, as Noel Coward assures us—doesn’t make it the right thing to do, and doesn’t authorize the wishful conclusion of Mr. Lerner that, like God, the sexual code is dead.

Perhaps the sexual code is dead. Question: Should we regret it? Or should we take the position that that which is “no longer there” is no longer missed? That should be a very good argument for saying that, in South Africa, one should not bemoan the fact of apartheid, inasmuch as integration is, indisputably, “no longer there.” Many observers are telling us here that our country is so thorough-goingly racist that we have no practicable alternative than to turn to apartheid. Should we, even assuming they were correct, diminish efforts to make things otherwise?

One wonders whether, if Miss LeClair were plopped into the middle of Columbia’s Union Theological Seminary, a single seminarian would trouble to argue with her, as Christ did the woman at Jacob’s well, that her ways are mistaken? 


Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 11/25 at 06:21 PM
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Allen Dulles on Soviet Military Threat 1959

After Dwight D. Eisenhower’s election in 1952, Dulles was appointed Director of CIA, serving until 1961.

Allen Dulles on the Soviet Military Threat

Director of Central Intelligence
Address before the
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MANUFACTURERS 64TH CONGRESS OF AMERICAN INDUSTRY
Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York City
December 4, 1959

Twelve years ago, on December 3, 1947, I had the honor of addressing the 52nd Annual Congress of American Industry, held by your Association.  My subject on that occasion, as now, was, the Soviet Challenge.  I then stated that this was a challenge to the United States “to prove that the system of free men under law can survive.”

This is still a challenge.  Only a few weeks ago Khrushchev amiably advised us, as he left the United States, that Communism would in time take us over.

In 1947 the Soviets were basing their hopes—not so much on the economic and industrial might of their own system, as on their forecast of the imminent collapse of our free enterprise society.

Then it was Stalin, Molotov and Vishinsky who warned us and told the world that our Marshall Plan was merely a means of unloading excess commodities and capital to avoid an impending American crisis.

These old Soviet leaders have gone and so have gone many of their arguments.  Their successors have largely abandoned the thesis of an early demise of capitalism due to its own defects.  Now they boast that over the years, say by 1970, they will surpass us in total industrial output.

This is a boast which is not likely to be realized unless we “rest on our oars.” What is of more immediate concern to us is the fact that the Soviets are using their growing industrial strength, which is still less than one-half of our own, largely to promote their national power aims rather than to give a fuller life to their own people.  We are doing just the opposite.

A decade ago Moscow was speaking to us in threatening terms because we were giving aid overseas to meet the danger of economic breakdown and communist takeover in large parts of Europe.  Now they propose to compete with us on a worldwide basis in the field of overseas aid and trade, hoping to win over the uncommitted nations of the world.

Then, though they had no atomic bombs, the Soviet were using the threat of their great conventional forces to help undermine Greece and Turkey and then later to menace the Free World in Berlin and Korea.

Now, while they preach coexistence and economic and industrial competition with the West, they also, on occasions, this week in fact, rattle the threat of ballistic missiles and give their support to the “hard core” Communists in their uneasy European satellites.

* * * * *

As representatives of this 64th Congress of American Industry, you have a legitimate interest in what your most aggressive foreign competitor, the Sino-Soviet Bloc, is doing and planning.  Today this is not because this competitor is seriously threatening your domestic or even your foreign markets.  It is rather because the pattern of this competitor’s conduct and the impact of the Bloc’s growing industrial power may have an important influence on the future direction of American industry and of our economy.

A wise European remarked to me the other day that in his opinion, the danger of war had receded, but that the dangers from international communism in other fields had increased.

In saying this he had two major thoughts in mind:

First, that the military situation would become a nuclear stalemate, the United States with its allies and the Sino-Soviet Bloc each having a sufficient supply of nuclear weapons and the means of delivery to inflict unacceptable damage on the other.

Second that, under these conditions, the competition might shift, at least for a time, from the military to the political and economic sectors with the Free World and free enterprise competing for the uncommitted world against all forms of penetration international communism.  Such competition, short of war, is the more likely because Khrushchev, while he desires to inherit the earth, does not wish it to be a world devastated (sic) by nuclear weapons,—also he thinks he is doing quite well as events are now developing.

* * * * *

It does not require recourse in secret data to reach the following conclusion: That over the immediate future both the United States and the Soviet Union will be continuing to equip themselves with nuclear weapons and with the means of delivery, whether by guided missiles or aircraft, adequate to constitute a grave deterrent to war by either side.  The impact of this mutual growing capability is already having its effect on the international scene.

However, for the deterrent to be effective, other conditions must be met; among them are the following:

(1) The United States and its allies of the Free World must continue to maintain a military defensive and retaliatory power such that no increase in Sino-Soviet military power could lead the latter to believe that they had gained clear superiority over us.

(2) Regional strife among powers having no nuclear capabilities must be quarantined or limited.  History has shown us small wars breed great wars and chain reactions with unforeseen consequences may result from them.

(3) There must be no doubt in the minds either of the leaders in Moscow or Peiping that the initiation by them of a war of aggression would be met with adequate force.  Hence we must make the strength of our military position, and our readiness to use it in defense against communist aggression, so clear that there can be no misunderstanding on the part of the Soviet.  Some wars have come from vicious intent and were a calculated act; more have come from miscalculations.

I doubt whether the leaders of international communism misunderstand or miscalculate our posture today.  They must not do so tomorrow.  The prevention of misunderstanding is a continuing task.  We must not slip into an attitude of complacency which might lead the Communists to have doubts about our intentions.  They must not be allowed to feel that the threat of nuclear blackmail could be used to push us out of any position that is vital to our security, on the mistaken theory that it is not worth the risk of a nuclear conflict.

Today the Soviets with a Gross National Product and an industrial capacity less than one-half of ours are nevertheless allocating to the national power sector of their economy, including military hardware and industrial plant for war purposes, an effort roughly equivalent to ours.

If they continue their industrial growth rate, at some eight to nine per cent per annum as is likely, the Soviets will be able, if they choose, substantially to increase their military effort.

Certainly until a system of controlled disarmament is devised, we cannot safely relax in the field of our military strength as the primary deterrent to the danger of communist aggression.

The secret of Soviet economic progress is simple.  They plow back into investment a large and growing share of their total annual production.  The Kremlin leaders direct about 30 per cent of GNP into capital outlays, while we in the United States are content with 17 - 20 per cent.

The commanding role of investment in Soviet economic growth is dramatically illustrated by their Seven Year Plan, which runs through 1965.  Capital investment in industry for the year 1959, the initial year of the plan, will be approximately equal, measured in dollars, to industrial investment in the United States.

Furthermore, the Soviets absolute volume of investment in such productive areas as the iron, steel and nonferrous industries, as well as in machinery manufacturing, will be substantially greater than that of the United States.

These massive investment expenditures are being fed into an industrial system whose output in 1958 was only about 40 per cent of the United States.  Under such high pressure fueling, the Soviet industrial plant can hardly fail to grow considerably faster than that of the United States.

Turning to the consumers field, the picture is entirely different.  While they have been slightly increasing the production of consumer goods over the past few years, their consuming public fares badly in comparison with our own.  In 1958, Soviet citizens had available for purchase about one-third of the total goods and services available to Americans.  For example, the Soviets were then producing on an average one automobile for every 50 we produced.

While there are no adequate figures to compare our production of luxury goods with that of the Soviet, it is certainly true that here Soviet production would only be a small percentage of our own.

Certainly it is true that a major thrust of our economy is directed into the production of the consumer type of goods and services, which add little to the sinews of our national strength.  On the other hand, the major thrust of Soviet economic development, and its high technological skills and resources, are directed toward specialized industrial, military and national power goals.

For a contestant engaged in a vital economic race with a lean and well-muscled opponent, we persist in carrying a prodigious burden of fat on our backs.

* * * * *

Soviet postwar economic expansion, as well as its advances in the military field, have also permitted the Kremlin to adopt an aggressive program in the less developed countries of the Free World.  In these newly emergent and fragile nations, the Soviet leaders have been advancing their cause by a combination of economic penetration, political warfare, and subversion.

The basic strategy of international communism, with its primary emphasis on measures short of war, has remained remarkably unchanged since the death of Stalin.  So too have its objectives.

These were never more bluntly stated than in Khrushchev’s recent speeches.

Obviously referring to the phrase attributed to him, “We will bury you,” he explained last summer that when he said that communism would be the graveyard of capitalism, he did not mean that communists would take shovels and start digging; “History,” he said, “would take care of capitalists.” They too, he suggested, would become museum pieces, and added that, “If there were a God and he could act, he would take a good broom and sweep you out.”

Let us have a look at the brooms Khrushchev proposes to use.

* * * * *

First economic penetration of the uncommitted world.

Quick industrialization is the goal of the new and emerging countries, as well as of many of the older countries which have been backward industrially.  It is no answer to such aspirations to suggest that the type of industrialization they want is premature, unwise or over-costly.  They will continue to seek it.

The example of the Soviet Union attracts them.  Here they see a nation which, in the course of 30 years since their revolutionary growing pains ended about 1928, has achieved second place in the world industrially.

The newly emerging States want results.  The want them now.  The Soviet promise them the moon with a few Migs thrown in.  They understand full well that the Soviets first got a rocket to the moon and some of them are deluded by the belief that the Kremlin can also give them a painless industrial transformation.  Soviet propaganda tells them this is so and that communism will deliver the goods.  It is a potent argument.  You can expect to see the Soviets continuing to use it in the four corners of the earth.

In several cases they have been able to get the jump on us; partly because of the procedures required under our laws; partly because we, rightly, have never conceived this to be a competition to see who can give the most the quickest but rather how one can best contribute to sound economic growth.

The Soviets, abetted by the Chinese Communists and their European Satellites, can easily maintain their present level of aid and trade and in the coming decade they may well divert larger absolute amounts to woo the uncommitted areas of the world.  As the Soviet and Chinese Communist industrial production advances, the threat of the spread of communism through trade and aid into uncommitted areas of the world will be proportionately increased.

* * * * *

Another broom which international communism proposes to use against the Free World is political warfare.

Here they have an aggressive campaign based on a series of very positive programs with political, economic and cultural objectives.  It involves the radio and other means of mass communication, as well as the written and spoken word; subtle political intrigue based on the control and manipulation of communist parties and communist fronts on a worldwide basis.

It includes the use of various “cover” organizations which pretend to represent youth, labor, professional groups and veterans.  They become the agencies for spreading communist doctrine throughout the Free World.  In their subversive arsenal, they also have organizations which use the slogans of “peace,” friendship and coexistence.

This challenge is being pressed forward under the growing threat of Soviet industrial, scientific and technical advances and under the cover of the Kremlin’s posture of coexistence.  It is a challenge which is the more dangerous because it is cleverly and clandestinely conducted, and even the Communist role is concealed as far as possible.

To meet this threat we must understand it.  To penetrate the subtleties of the Soviet political, economic, and psychological drive is harder to do than to understand the military threat.  Weapons of war are visible, tangible, and comprehensible.  The impact of an idea, of a subversive political movement, of a disguised economic policy is more subtle.

International communism is a ruthlessly proselytizing force.  It seeks to make converts of men and women wherever the opportunity permits; just as it does not hesitate to make “prisoners” of them as it has done in Hungary.  It has lost none of its faith in its worldwide mission, as outlined by Lenin and Stalin and vigorously proclaimed by Khrushchev as he left our shores a few weeks ago.  This mission continues to be the domination of the entire Free World, with primary emphasis today on the new and uncommitted nations.

The communists have no reason to be confident that they have an adequate answer to our military retaliatory power.  They do feel, however, that they still have the ability to close off their own frontiers, their air space and their rigidly controlled society to ideas from abroad.  They have their Iron Curtains not only on their frontiers but within the country.  They even try to draw down this Curtain within the minds of their own people.

Recently we see some evidence here and there of a slight raising of their curtain.  There is somewhat less jamming and a wider play of American news items in the Soviet press.  If this were to continue and develop it would be one of the most encouraging signs in our relations with the USSR.  It would be an act, a deed on their part, as contrasted with mere pronouncements about coexistence.

* * * * *

A third broom the Soviets have been subtly using against us is the penetration and subversion of governments which do not “cooperate” with Moscow or Peiping.  A classical example here was Czechoslovakia, more than ten years ago.  The same techniques are used today.  Popular front governments are still being planned by Moscow for several countries which today have close relations with us.

“Nationalism” as a slogan for the breaking of the ties of friendship between us and the countries of this Hemisphere was the line given the Latin American communist leaders who attended the 21st Party Congress in Moscow last February.  Details for the execution of this policy were then outlined to these leaders and some of the fruits of this planning can be seen today in Panama, Cuba, and elsewhere in this Hemisphere.

It is Moscow’s desire to move very secretly in this field and not to allow its hand to be shown as directly supporting local Communist parties either in this Hemisphere or elsewhere.  Recently Peiping has not been so subtle.  The Chinese Communists, who have the same long-range objectives as the Soviets, are acting in their own area of particular interest with a heavy, blundering hand.  In fact, nationalistic feeling has been turning against Peiping in many countries around the periphery of Communist China.  This must make the more professional operators in the Kremlin cringe.

* * * * *

In these comments, I have tried to give some idea of the nature and dimensions of the Soviet challenge in the military, political, and economic fields.

My conclusion is that even if a nuclear stalemate should tend to lessen the immediate danger of war, we would still be faced with a serious challenge.  Furthermore, if, over the years the Soviet military outlays should take up a smaller ratio than today of their Gross National Product, the Kremlin might give added emphasis to its non-military penetration program.  This would add to the danger of its policies under “peaceful coexistence” as the Kremlin now preaches it.

Certainly we have not answered the challenge if we limit ourselves merely to meeting the Kremlin’s military threat.

These facts should bring us to a sober appraisal of the best means of marshalling our very great assets and capabilities—in concert with our like-minded friends and allies.  Today the Free World has a wide margin of industrial superiority over the Communist world.  Are we applying this superiority in the proper way to the proper ends?

This we must do within the framework of freedom - not regimentation as practiced in the Soviet Union. It must be done with due regard for the legitimate aspirations of our people for a fuller life - not by asking them to accept the drab existence imposed on the Soviet people.  However, as Mr. Herter said, the fateful competition with communism has a first claim on our energies and our interests and calls for subordination of our private interests to the paramount public interest.

You, yourselves, with your wide interests and responsibilities could do much to help make this society of ours become more responsive to the challenge of the day. 


Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 11/25 at 06:09 PM
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